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Monday 19 September 2016


Apulia, Lecce and Vieste - Undiscovered Italy
10:26–13:34 Cleethorpes–Manchester Airport
16:00–20:10 Ryanair FR8894 Manchester Airport–Brindisi Airport
Hilton Garden Inn, Lecce


On arrival at the airport, please go to the appropriate check-in desk or baggage drop.
It is recommended that you check in two hours before departure and then proceed through emigration and passport control into the departure lounge. Here you will find bars, restaurants and shops selling everything you are likely to need whilst on holiday.

The gate number and boarding instructions are clearly displayed on television screens throughout the Terminal. Please comply with these instructions, as announcements may not be made. The general level of security at airports has been increased in line with the Department of Transport directives. Wherever possible you should pack liquids in your hold baggage, as there are restrictions on the amount you can take in your hand luggage. All liquids, gels and pastes are limited to a maximum quantity of 100ml and must be carried in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag. This must be presented separately for inspection at the airport security point. All sharp implements should be packed in your suitcase.

On 2 July 2014 the DfT announced they were stepping up some aviation security measures. In line with the US advice, passengers on some routes into and out of the UK may now also be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are powered up or face not being allowed to bring the device onto the aircraft. Passengers flying into or out of the UK are therefore advised to make sure electronic devices being carried in their hand luggage are charged before they travel.
On arrival at the airport, you should retrieve your cases and proceed through customs. Follow signs for arrivals until you come into the main Arrivals Hall, where our tour manager will meet you. Please bear in mind that they may be travelling on the same flight, and so could be the last to arrive at the meeting point. Please remain there until met.

Please note that in order to operate this tour successfully all clients may not necessarily be travelling on the same flight. This will not affect the overall content of your holiday.

The coach will then take you to the hotel (transfer time: approximately two hours and thirty minutes from Bari Airport, 45 minutes from Brindisi Airport), where you will stay for the next two nights on a half board basis. Please note that because of your flight’s late arrival, dinner will not be included on day 1. A replacement lunch will be offered on day 2.

The address of the hotel is:
Hotel Hilton Garden Inn, Via Cosimo De Giorgi 6, 73100 Lecce LE, Italy
Telephone number: 0039 0832 5252
[i] The original information on the website was:
You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Bari. [This presumably applies to flights from London. Ryanair do flights from Stansted, easyJet and British Airways from Gatwick. Our flight, however, is from Manchester to Brindisi–Salento.] On arrival you will be met and transferred to the four-star Hilton Garden Inn in Lecce for two nights. This fine hotel is very modern in style, with the normal facilities you would expect of such a property, plus roof-top swimming pool and is just a short walk from the old town.…

…After I’d shaved, there was only ca.½-hour left to pack my hand-bag before the taxi would come, but I managed it. It was raining, so we sheltered in the on-platform waiting room. There were surprisingly many already waiting and still arriving, perhaps twenty, some with very big suitcases. We managed to get our two cases in the tiny luggage rack, however, though en route there was others’ luggage in front of the rack in the aisle. Such inadequate rolling stock for an airport service! We didn’t occupy our reserved seats some distance away from the luggage, but sat in the “priority” seats just opposite the luggage rack. No-one got on en route with any impaired mobility that might merit occupying the “priority seats”. We thought perhaps we’d been to Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport before, but after traversing the tubular pier we found ourselves outside, walking a few hundred yards, following “T3” painted on the sidewalk. There wasn’t an express queue for people with premium seats, but the “snake” we joined was dealt with quickly. Both Janet’s and my carry-on bags were pulled over for search and inspection after they passed through the scanner. I was disappointed to find no Upper Crust counter airside, for I had in mind to have a beef pasty as I had done last time at Manchester Airport… There wasn’t much time till boarding started, anyway. I got some crisps from Boots, and Janet got another couple of Marmite-flavoured items from another shop. One was a pack of little bread-sticks, which I ate then and there. The other was a pack of rice-cakes, which I opened on the plane; but these tasted fusty, and I couldn’t eat them. At the gate, there was a priority queue for people with premium seats. We were on Row 2. Why these were classed as “premium”, though, I don’t know: mine on the right was immediately behind a bulkhead so I couldn’t stretch my legs properly; Janet’s on the left was one of the cramped, ordinary seats, not extra-legroom. Fuck rip-off Ryanair! Seemingly everyone who passed barged into my left shoulder as they did so. I was getting really angry about it. And seemingly from time to time everyone chose to queue for the forward toilet, so I had someone’s arse in my face. I availed myself of a bottled water + toasted sandwich[ii] + Pringles “meal deal”. Janet asked for Pepsi Max, but they were out of stock. She therefore had my water, and I decided to order a 185ml bottle of red wine. We put our watches forward one hour. The flight took some 2 hours 45 minutes. As we walked across the tarmac to the “arrivals” building, we heard a lone cricket chirruping. The guy who looked at our passports was armed, as had been the one I remarked upon in Sardinia. We were the first of the Riviera party away from the baggage-reclaim and through the door heading for the woman holding up a “Riviera” sign. She wore a name-badge “Paola”. She checked our names off a list of about thirty or forty. Then we waited for all the others to appear before being led out into the night to where the coach was parked. Paola handed to each of us a menu-sheet for all the dinners in each of the locations of the holiday, for us to choose (where there were options; many of the meals were set, apart from there being a vegetarian option). The journey to the hotel in an uptown part of Lecce took some 45 minutes. The lowish yellow moon to the left was almost full. As soon as we got through the glass automated sliding doors to the lobby, Paola gave me a card printed with the room number (“407”) with a key-card attached.

We weren’t long getting one of the three elevators up to our fourth-floor room. I couldn’t open the safe again after I’d locked it. I was just testing it; I hadn’t locked anything in it. I went down to reception to report it, but nothing could be done till tomorrow. We went down to the bar, where Janet had a Coca Cola Light and I a small bottle of Nastro Azzurro beer. Janet went back up, intending to shower. A guy from Wales who’d come on his own joined me. His wife died seven years ago, and after a couple of years vegetating (my word, not his), he decided to start travelling. I had another beer. Janet reappeared, because she couldn’t open one of the padlocks on the cases. I went back up with her (in the lift; most other times we used the stairs), and twisted the padlock off after I couldn’t open it. I went back down. The Welsh guy was just leaving, so I joined the couple at the next table. They were from Barrow-in-Furness, “formerly in Lancashire,” I commented when I told them I also was a Lancastrian, from Blackpool. I had another beer, before returning upstairs. There was no reply when I rang the doorbell, and I heard the sound of the shower from within, so I went back to reception for a second key-card, then let myself in. Tried to log on to the hotel internet (23:24), but found I needed a code and password to do so. We were in bed just before midnight.

[ii] It did piss me off, though, that it was called “panini”, as if that word were singular. If I ask for “panini” I should get more than one! I loathe this particular English abuse of Italian. What is so difficult about “panino”, singular, and “panini”, plural?

[Tuesday 20 September 2016]

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